Do Blairites and Brownites exist in the Parliamentary party?

I was struck by some analysis of Mrs Thatcher's downfall and what really caught my eye was how few Thatcherites were in the parliamentary party by the end of her tenure at Downing Street what you would term the true believers. This is what fundamentally led to her poor performance v Heseltine in the opening ballot of the leadership race. From analysis by Norton it's pretty clear much of the Tory parliamentary party was made up of pragmatists.

I think is the case with the Labour parliamentary party the media tend to exaggerate the extent of the Brownite/Blairite divide. Of course there are MPs that exist who would class themsleves with these labels they are relatively few in number. The majority of the parliamentary party is neither Brownite nor Blairite. The myth of the two camps has suited both sides. It has allowed those around Gordon Brown to pretend that they controlled huge swathes of troops which they ordered to attack or retreat at will. It was therefore Gordon who decided whether the Government won or lost key votes and who thus decided the fate of the Prime Minister. The myth has similarly suited the Blairites, because it has allowed them to deflect attention away from the real reason that they have got into difficulties with their backbenchers, enabling them to place the blame on the Brownites and their devious scheming. The truth has always been more prosaic. When Tony Blair got himself into difficulties with the PLP, it was not because of Gordon and his Brownites. It was because he managed to alienate the broad non-aligned mainstream on his backbenches. When Gordon Brown runs into trouble with the PLP, it will be for exactly the same reason.

Of course there could be a different outcome if the Parliamentary party if pragmatic as many people suggest could it be that they look for a different leader other than Brown? Martin Kettle of the Guardian suggested that upto 60/90 MPs backed Gordon Brown, then there was the hard left in terms of the Campign Group. 60 MPs opposed Brown outright (i.e former Ministers etc), then there was about 200 MPs in the centre willing to look at the best candidate who would win the next election. So if someone like Miliband shows he is more popular than Brown in the polls could Labour elect him? Miliband is a canny operator all those lunches with newspapers editors last month may work out for him in the future. The crucial factor will the often forgotten factor in the whole equation the Labour party membership/union membership, in my view they are neither Blairite/Brownite but pragmatic who ever will deliever a fourth term will get there vote. If Miliband stands and has the backing of Fleet Street as well as the opinion polls could we have a Shakespearian tradegy to inflict Brown?


Have the Lib Dems lost the plot?

Some very sensible analysis by the Independent's Steve Richard, thou I think the Liberal Democrats and Ming Campbell should be rather concerned that the Independent is questioning them given that the Indy is the Lib Dems chief cheerleader normally. Personally I agree with Richard's main points Ming Campbell has done well on a policy level and on Iraq the problem is not enough of the media is listening plus he has struggled in PMQ's, essentially he needs better PR but that's modern politics. Polls etc often underestimate the Lib Dems, I think they will do well at the next General Election, no matter how often they are written off in the right wing media, but they must sharpen up there PR act.

The Big Question: Have the Liberal Democrats missed their historic opportunity?http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article2105960.ece

Lib Dems must sharpen message on crime, says Campbell


How Labour needs Charles Clarke

I think Charles Clarke provides some sensible and smart analysis in the Times this morning having a dig at both Blair and Brown. I believe his words at Brown are most relevant when he says 'Brown is not clear on ideas for reform' and we do'nt know if the Chancellor believes in Blairite reforms such as Tutition fees and Foundation Hospitals or Academies. The killer line is the jibe about Gordon's Britishness speech's being recycled. Clearly we do'nt need to know everything that Gordon Brown is going to do in his first 100 days as PM but the party and country has a right to know what direction he intends to take us in, so credit to Clarke for banging the drum a few to many others seem just to stay silent.

'Sceptic stirs the waters of debate to keep Labour's boat on course':


Bishop calls for veil legislation

I'm no fan of the Church of England but I have to say the more I hear from the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester the more I am impressed. The next Archbishop of Canterbury?

- Bishop calls for veil legislation

- Ban veils in public, says Asian bishop

- Bishop: Buraucrats are writing Christ out of Christmas


Graduates 'regret degree choice'

A survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests a third of graduates believe they studied the wrong course at University. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6183017.stm?ls

It's often said that the Prime Minister regrets studying Law at Oxford, apparently he told his mentor Roy Jenkins that he wished he had studied History instead. Perhaps if he had the course of recent political history would be rather different?


Post Offices

I have to confess I have no great emotional attachment to Post Offices perhaps it's because I do not live in a so-called rural community and thus do not benefit from the various social services that are provided from Post Offices. But looking at the harsh economic reality of it, the Government is 100% correct to reform the network. Any Government has to make sure that it is getting value for taxpayers money i.e in terms of the £150m-a-year subsidy for the rural network. Is it sustainable for 800 of the smallest post offices to be used by an average of 16 people a week? The Government has pumped nearly £2billion of taxpayers money into the entire Post Office network that shows it's committment in my view, in return should the Government not ask for some form of change/reform? The blunt truth is that more and more people use bank accounts and have no need for the Post Office, also it's cheaper for the Government to pay benefits into bank accounts rather than than the through the Postal Network. Anybody who herd the Trade and Industry Secretary on the Today program in my view car'nt but be persuaded by the Govt. argument which is sound. This country is starting to become more and more anti-reform and risk averse, I wonder what Thatcher would say? I find it amazing that traditional bastions of the establishment such as the Telegraph and the Tory Party are happy to maintain the status quo which reguard to this issue. Perhaps David Cameron is playing this for electoral reasons like the NHS, but these things always come back to bite as Labour have found. I imagine some Tories feel that once in power that Cameron will be a proper radical like Thatcher, but many Labour people thought Blair would be a proper 'leftie' once in power and it turned out to be untrue. So perhaps when Cameron reads out the 'longest shopping list in history' which seems to includes increasing support for the postal network he really does believe it. I almost feel sorry for the Conservatives.